Behavioral Approaches of leadership

The inability to define effective leadership based solely on traits led to an interest in look- ing at the behavior of leaders and how it might contribute to leadership success or failure. Perhaps any leader can adopt the correct behavior with appropriate training. Two basic leadership behaviors identified as important for leadership  are task-oriented behavior and people-oriented behavior. These two metacategories, or broadly defined behavior categories, were found to be applicable  to effective leadership in a variety  of situations and time periods.17 Although they are not the only important  leadership behaviors, concern for tasks and concern for people must be shown at some reasonable level. Thus, many approaches to understanding  leadership  use these metacategories as a basis for study and comparison. Important research programs  on leadership  behavior  were conducted  at Ohio State University, University of Michigan, and University of Texas.


Researchers at Ohio State University surveyed leaders to study hundreds of dimensions  of leader behavior.18 They identified two major behaviors, called consideration and initiating structure.

Consideration falls in the category of people-oriented behavior and is the extent to which the leader is mindful of subordinates,  respects their ideas and feelings, and estab- lishes mutual  trust. Considerate leaders are friendly, provide open communication, develop teamwork, and are oriented toward their subordinates’ welfare.

Initiating  structure is the degree of task behavior, that is, the extent to which the leader is task oriented  and directs subordinate work activities toward goal attainment. Leaders with this style typically give instructions,  spend time planning,  emphasize dead- lines, and provide explicit  schedules of work activities.

Consideration  and initiating structure  are independent  of each other,  which means that a leader with a high degree of consideration may be either high or low on initiating structure. A leader may have any of four styles: high initiating structure–low consider- ation, high initiating structure–high consideration, low initiating structure–low consid- eration, or low initiating structure–high consideration. The Ohio State research found that the high consideration–high initiating structure style achieved better performance and greater satisfaction than the other leader styles. The value of the high–high  style is illustrated by Brigadier General Michael P. Mulqueen, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps to head up the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Mulqueen runs the depository like a business rather than a typical nonprofit.  He stresses efficiency and is as demanding as any corporate  CEO in organizing and directing people toward achieving the organi- zation’s goals. Yet Mulqueen knows that leaders don’t get people to rally around them simply by issuing orders. He’s never intimidating, and he’s always willing to listen to other people’s ideas, allow people autonomy in how they accomplish  goals, and show appreciation  and respect.  Mulqueen’s high consideration–high  initiating  structure leadership approach has turned  the Greater Chicago Food Depository into one of the nation’s most effective hunger-relief agencies.19 Successful pro football  coaches also often use a high–high  style.20  For example, coaches have to keep players focused on winning football  games by scheduling structured practices, emphasizing careful planning, and so forth. However, the best coaches are those who genuinely  care about and show concern for their players. At the top of this page is a profile of Bob Ladouceur, the coach of an extraordinary high school football team, who personifies the high–high leadership style.

Some research, however, indicates that the high–high style is not necessarily the best. These studies suggest that effective leaders may be high on consideration and low on initiating struc- ture or low on consideration and high on initiating structure, depending on the situation.21


Studies at the University of Michigan at about the same time took a different  approach by comparing the behavior of effective and ineffective supervisors.22 The most effective super- visors were those who focused on the subordinates’ human needs to “build effective work groups with high performance goals.” The Michigan researchers used the term employee- centered leaders for leaders who established high performance goals and displayed support- ive behavior toward  subordinates. The less-effective leaders were called job-centered leaders; these leaders tended to be less concerned  with goal achievement and human needs in favor of meeting schedules, keeping costs low, and achieving production efficiency.


Building on the work of the Ohio State and Michigan studies, Blake and Mouton of the  University of  Texas proposed    a  two-dimensional leadership  theory called the leadership grid.23   The two-dimensional  model and five of its seven major management styles are depicted in Exhibit 11.4. Each axis on the grid is a nine-point scale, with 1 mean- ing low concern and 9 high concern.

Team management (9,9) often  is considered  the most effective  style and is recommended for managers  because organization members work together to accomplish tasks. Country club management (1,9) occurs when primary emphasis is given to people rather than to work outputs.  Authority-compliance  management (9,1) occurs when efficiency  in operations is the dominant orientation. Middle-of-the-road management (5,5) reflects a moderate amount  of concern for both people and production. Impoverished management (1,1) means the absence of a management  philosophy;  managers exert little effort toward interpersonal relation- ships or work accomplishment.

The next group of theories builds on the leader–follower relationship of behavioral approaches to explore how organizational situations affect the leader’s approach.

Source: Daft Richard L., Marcic Dorothy (2009), Understanding Management, South-Western College Pub; 8th edition.

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